ALL-STAR WEEKEND AWARDS
By Kate Crowder
Follow me on Twitter, @katec0223
In honor of the All-Star festivities last weekend, Scarlet Caps asked me to write a recap of the weekend’s events. However, what you see below is not a typical recap. In the spirit of the movie awards season, I have broken the All-Star Weekend down into categories, with nominees for various brilliant and ridiculous awards. Feel free to select your winners in the comments below!
1.) Best Line (or set of lines) of the Weekend:
Although much of American sporting culture would lead you to believe that hockey players are boring and lack personality, we here in Washington have been treated to a colorful cast of characters in the past 30-odd years, meaning that we, of course, know better. Therefore, the first award of the evening goes to that competitor who best exhibits a quickness of wit and a wonderful embrace of sarcasm, or who simply forgot that he was being recorded.
- A mic’d up 20-year old Matt Duchene chatting during the Skills Competition: “Too much vodka from last night.”
- Marc Staal, of the New York Rangers and brother of Captain Eric, on waiting it out in the Fantasy Draft:
- Marc Staal: “You know, we’re blood. Thought I was going to be first pick. Kinda’ disappointed right now. You know, I don’t even know what to say. [Granted this is after he publically called his brother “mouthy” which is a term I can’t say I’ve ever used in my life. Mouthy, Marc?]
- James Duthie of TSN: “Devastated would be an understatement probably?”
- Marc Staal: “Yeah, I’m crushed. I’m never buying him Christmas presents, or birthday presents… my mom’s probably a little upset…classless.”
Two seconds later...
- Eric Staal: “With our next pick, we’d like to select from the New York Rangers… Henrik Lunqvist.”
- Henrik Sedin on being split from brother, Daniel, and being drafted by Team Lidstrom: “Well, Team Lidstrom got the best twin, that’s for sure.”
- Cam Ward on going first overall in the Fantasy Draft ahead of the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos and the Sedin twins: “I guess I was just the best player available.”
- Alex Ovechkin on the Red Carpet: “Just casual. I didn’t even do my [shirt sleeve] buttons. Just chill.”
- Eric Staal on rookie teammate, Jeff Skinner: “He’s the Justin Bieber of Raleigh.” Bieber Fever.
WINNER: Matt Duchene
2.) Best Hair:
Usually hidden beneath a helmet, fans especially watching on VERSUS and TSN were treated to a schmorgesborg of wind-blown hockey hair, as all the good, the bad and the even worse were on display for your viewing pleasure. So often underappreciated, this award goes to that competitor with the most magnificent mane.
- Kris Letang – Supposedly there is a bit of an obsession with Letang’s set of thick, rather long-ish, black tresses in Pittsburgh, although seeing him without a helmet in the Skills Competition I can see why. Someone get that man a deal with Pantene.
- Erik Karlsson – Obviously keeping up the traditional of great Swedish hair. Perfectly combed, Swedish locks, with a nod to classic hairstyle of the European male, circa 1999.
- Henrik Ludqvist – Another Swede proudly carrying the torch of well-coifed Scandinavian hair. Although lacking the true flow and European comb-back that we saw Karlsson sporting, the King went classic to match his sharp suit. His time in NYC seems to have brought him to the light.
- Ryan Kessler – Because who knows what is going on there.
WINNER: Kris Letang
3.) Most Graceful Moment, Player or…Object:
In the spirit of one last year’s most talked about movies Black Swan, I am also handing out an award for the “most-like-a-ballerina” moment, to honor the competitor who best represents the epitome of grace.
- Alex Ovechkin gets tangled in the on-ice camera chords, and then falls. Luckily for Ovechkin, the All-Star Weekend is filled with a light-hearted spirit that encourages a performance or two, or three. And Ovi seems to have a knack for turning potentially embarrassing moments into fan entertainment.
- Alex Ovechkin’s stick. You know that feeling when you just can’t catch that streaking forward, and you need to break up a scoring chance? Well, just toss your stick at him. That was probably a semi-accurate analysis of the thought process in Ovi’s brain when Matt Duchene came flying by him in the game on Sunday. Yep, stick flies right through the air, in a 100% illegal move, and Duchene is awarded the first penalty shot ever in the All-Star Game. Making history.
- Marc-Andre Fleury “dancing” on the red carpet. Granted he only showed off a couple of steps, but that little bounce/hop/jig from side to side was priceless. Not only that, I wish we could have seen him lay down those moves in full gear. Dancing goalies – now that would be…something.
WINNER: Marc-Andre’s dance moves
4.) Best Use of the English Language:
Hockey is an international game, and the NHL draws the best talents from all over the world. Therefore, on any given day at the rink, one could hear not just English, but Canadian English. And not just Canadian English, but Russian, or Swedish, or Finish, or Canadian English, or French, or Canadian English. But as some strain of English seems to be the prevailing tongue, I am handing out an award to the player who surely has mastered all of the previously stated languages, but still amazes with his wonderful application of English.
- Mike Green on stage before selecting Alex Ovechkin in the Fantasy Draft: “We kinda’ pre-thought this one.” A quick scan of Dictionary.com has no results for pre-thought, which must be a lot like forethought, or even planning, as in ‘we kinda’ planned this one.’
- Anything that came out of Claude Giroux’s mouth. My initial thoughts after watching the Skills Competition were that if hockey has a ‘dude’ not named Ryan Getzlaf, it’s Claude Giroux. Every time the announcers would check back with the mic’d-up Flyer forward, it was like a Budweiser commercial – “Whazzz up!” Also, chewing gum while talking on national TV is not recommended.
WINNER: Mike Green
5.) The Best Rising (All-)Star
As some of the veterans noted throughout the broadcast, the turnover from the last All-Star Game in Montreal to this year’s event was amazing. Every year there is a new crop of youngsters who challenge for spots on NHL rosters across the league. But kudos to the All-Star gang for celebrating some of these newcomers who are surely poised to be All-Stars for years to come.
- P.K. Subban. How great is this kid? If he hadn’t thought of borrowing hometown hero Jeff Skinner’s jersey to get a rise out of the Carolina crowd during the Breakaway Challenge, how many think that Ovi might have thought of something similar? He’s a got a fun personality, and the All-Star Weekend was a great event to let it show. He gets the showmanship aspect of the weekend, even though there are those who think it should only be reserved for events such as these.
- Justin Bieber. Also known as Jeff Skinner, the 18-year old (who looks 12) had fans (e.g. young girls) lined up out the door for his autograph, and as the recipient of some of the loudest applause throughout the weekend, he’s certainly a star on the rise. But it’s not just hype – this former figure skater is as good as advertised. Unfortunately it looks like he will in the Southeast Division for some time.
WINNER: P.K. Subban
6.) Best Use of Technology:
We all know that they way of the world is now digital. Nearly everyone on the face of the Earth has a Facebook page, and Twitter is a groundswell phenomenon that has exploded over the past two years. Everything is moving into the digital realm, and sports has been particularly creative in leading the way, as new technology provides fans with new ways to interact with their favorite teams and with each other. The NHL has been on the forefront of this wave, and it’s great to see that many of the players are tech-savvy. With that said, here are the nominees for the best uses (and performances) of technology new and old throughout the weekend.
- The Chicago Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane (who I prefer to refer to as Patty Kane) was toting around a Flip Cam for most of the weekend, at least from what the TV cameras could tell. Not exactly original, but fun. Great footage on the Blackhawks site if anyone is interested.
- The radar gun failed to work not once, but twice, when recording Ovi’s shot during the Hardest Shot Competition. Brilliant. Makes me wonder now about the authenticity of speeding tickets, because without a hard and fast read, we can all believe what we WANT to believe, right? So, I had Ovechkin’s clocked in at 147.6 mph. Exactly.
- Ovechkin going to town on his Blackberry during the draft, kindly capturing Phil Kessel’s look of awkward embarrassment after hearing his name called last with the video function of his Blackberry. That, of course, in between constantly texting. It’s addicting! I’m actually writing this on my Blackberry.
- Another brilliant move: the under-aged Matt Duchene clearing up “the vodka thing” on Twitter. From @Matt9Duchene: Oh and btw, the vodka thing wasn't a personal thing, it was a joke amongst our group! Don't take it how I said it.
- Not exactly new, and not of the social media/technology vain, but the mic’d-up players were a great addition to the broadcast. It’s fascinating to hear the dialogue between players, recorded in a space where most fans will never go. However, keep in mind that this was the All-Star version, which is slightly different than the “24/7” version. Still a great feature to the VERSUS and TSN coverage.
WINNER: The radar gun
7.) Best New Additions:
In order to attract new fans and to keep established fans interested, it is imperative that the NHL continue to introduce new elements into the All-Star mix, which is exactly what they did this year. Spearheaded by ex-NHLer Brendan Shanahan, the 2011 All-Star experience was quite different than the spectacle hosted by the Canadiens in 2009. But some additions were better than others, and all of the additions where better than the Guardian Project.
- Goalies in the fastest skater competition. Awesome all around. What’s not to love about these talented Michelin men racing down the ice in FULL gear? This is a definite must-stick-around for next year. Although I suggest that we amp up the difficulty level by having shooters fire pucks while they are skating, earning an extra point for puck they turn away. And props to the Bruins’ Tim Thomas for finishing the race only one second off the leader after taking a tumble behind the net. I guess they don’t wear those pads for nothing!
- The Skill Relay. All joking aside, this event was tremendous. The relay forced players to utilize many different skills that they would all use in the course of a game, yet isolated into stations such as one-timers from various angles, passing, puck handling, skating and edge work, and shooting accuracy. Now, who here would never want to sign up for that passing drill? Um, me – that looks insanely tough, although I’m wondering if it should now be implemented as a drill in every single Caps’ practice moving forward. Also, a random aside: how many coaches do you think watched the Shootout Elimination and are now adding a shootout element to all practices?
- The Fantasy Draft. Again, a great addition that brought a new sense of excitement to this year’s festivities, as well as a amped up feeling of competition. Not only did it provide a near endless stream of jokes at Phil Kessel’s expense, but it displaced the old East vs. West format that the All-Star game has relied on for years. I believe this is a refreshing change because it allows for new line combinations, and creative D-pairings that has previously been unimaginable expect in Fantasy Hockey. Fantasy Hockey, meet the Fantasy Draft.
WINNER: The Skill Relay, but that just barely edged out those wicked fast goalies.
8.) Worst Consolation Prize:
Little explanation needed here. No one, and I mean no one, truly wants to be picked last in the draft. Athletes have a ton of pride, and are competitive by nature. And having to be picked last on television, in front of your competitors, well, that’s just awful.
- Hands down, Phil Kessel’s new Honda. Does a Honda really offset the pain of being picked last? That being said, if he doesn’t want it, I’ll take it.
WINNER: Yep, hands DOWN the Honda.
Hope you guys enjoyed this…but I’m serious about the car.